Monday, 8 February 2010

It's debating day!

In a further case of blatantly padding out my blog with writings done form elsewhere (see piece on tax breaks for the games industry) I decided to share a long reply to someone on a forum discussing the existance of God. Mainly because in a couple of months, that discussion will be culled from the forum, and I spent a lot of time writing it.
I have removed the user name of the person I was debating, but have left the points that I am replying to in the quote areas. The first line seems to include a typo on their part, as they themselves believe in god...

"Going off topic, but at best the evidence [for god] is debatable."
Indeed that is true, but as you state  "nobody has really answered or even considered, in some cases, these questions" I shall at least point out the fallacy in that comment. People have considered many of these questions. I certainly have and did when I ceased calling myself a Christian in my early teens.
    "* The fine tuning of the universe (there's no evidence of a multiverse, and even if it were possible for a bubble of spacetime to isolate itself, the fact it is fine tuned is still more likely if there is a God).
    * The fine tuning of the earth - spread of resources and weather patterns well tuned for global trade and human development."
These are covered by the anthropic principle. Indeed the universe and our planet are fine tuned to our existence, if they weren't we wouldn't be here! Evolution favours the success of organisms adapted to their environment. A Sulphur breathing, arsenic drinking lifeform would surely struggle on earth, as we would struggle on all the planets we have so far discovered.

If you consider that we might be here as a result of the situation rather than the situation existing for us, the fine-tuning isn't an 'act-of-god' it's almost a tautology of our existence.

"* The spread of luck in human history has favoured progress. Even the election of Barak Obama was a "black swan" event that should have been improbable. Other examples include the internet, or the Allied Victory in WWII followed by the checking of communism (the more probable outcome was a European Fascist/ Communist bloc). There are literally thousands of happy chance events throughout human history."
I'm disarmed by the idea of a god that would on one hand generate and influence what we may retrospectively call progress, while on the other create through his believers an atmosphere that discriminated against it for the previous 2 millenia. So this god influenced an allied success in WWII, but only after many millions were killed in 6 years of conlict and genocide?

Surely the failure of communism can only be called progress retospectively? What if the entire world had gone over to that way of thinking 65 years ago, to great success? Would you be on a similar message board somewhere saying that the fall of capitalism must be down to God's influence?
* Morality - selfish genes are one possible, if incomplete explanation, but even an apparently inert chemical substrate capable of promoting itself suggests some force greater than a randomly aggregated individual.

I'm not sure how what you have stated after the dash refers to morality... Morality is not a religious concept but a human one. I have morals, yet I do not accept that God exists. If we only took morality from our religious texts then we should...

Not be homosexual - "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." (leviticus 18:22); Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders (Corinthians 6:9)

Not be disabled - "Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God... a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous... or hath his stones broken... he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God." (Leviticus 21:17-21)

Undertake Genocidal aggressive expansion -  "When the LORD, your God, brings you into the land which you are to enter and occupy, and dislodges great nations before you--the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites: seven nations more numerous and powerful than you-- and when the LORD, your God, delivers them up to you and you defeat them, you shall doom them. Make no covenant with them and show them no mercy." (Deuteronomy 7:1-2)

and from the Quran (so I'm not just picking on one religion)

Kill in the name of God - "Do not think that those who are killed in the cause of God are dead; they are alive at their Lord, being provided for." (3:169)

So morality can at the very least be shown to have changed over the years, while the word of God has not for nearly two thousand years (unless you are a Mormon). Whatever is driving that change is therefore unlikely to be God himself. Could morality not be another evolutionary advantage, as a result of our greater necessity to cooperate with each other over time?
    * Consciousness - we still don't know what it is. Is it material?
    * The nature of evolution. Some biologists have made a great leap from saying that because it could be unguided it therefore is unguided. In fact, evolution is full of riddles - e.g. why are we programmed to age and die? Without death, evolution as we understand it couldn't occur, yet the fact our genes eventually switch us off suggests some force greater than the individual at work.
Ah, the very reasoning for which religion and 'God' sprung into being in the first place. We don't know the cause of something, therefore we will call it God and no further explanation is required. When something is unknown an answer is sought. The idea of a root cause terminator such as God surpresses progress, and on it's own counters the 'progress' assertion you made earlier.
* the big bang - suggests cause.

Well actually no it doesn't, at least not one that preceeds it. There is a very good talk here that deals with how a universe could come from nothing. It is well worth watching if you can get through the obvious anti-creationist slant that runs through it.

There is no narcissism in my atheism, it's my conclusions based on the evidence that I have seen. If there were some actual genuine evidence presented to me that confirmed the existence of God, or lead me to believe there was a strong possibility in His/Her/It's existence then I would alter my stance accordingly.

Two further points:

    * If you believe there is a necessity for God in order for things to exist, why is there no necessity for God himself to have a creator? Many people fail to see the paradox here but it is simple. A universe cannot come into being by itself, but a force powerful enough to create one can? That simply makes no sense at all to me I'm afraid.

    * Some have reacted quite strongly (as is often the case) to the criticism of religion. Why on a forum that I can be called a tree-hugger or museli-chomper for my libertarian views with no offence being taken, can I not comment negatively on what is effectively another lifestyle choice without some feeling that it is unacceptable?

Hope you enjoyed, now you see why I don't want it to fall in the ether that is the ex-internet.

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